Arizona challenged itself with a daunting nonconference schedule, one that was likely to produce some losses. One of those happened Saturday when the Wildcats fell to No. 14 Florida Atlantic in double overtime in Las Vegas.
Our game recap can be found here. Below is what Tommy Lloyd said afterward.
On the value of playing FAU: “We told our guys these are the types of teams you’re going to play once you make a deep tournament run. They’re an incredible team and incredibly well coached and they have some really good players. That No. 1 (Johnell Davis) was nails and they have veterans around him that made some other good plays. That was a fun, exciting game and a great experience for us. Obviously, we would have liked one more play to go our way, but we’re going to be better for this.”
On the nonconference schedule: “That’s why we set up this schedule. I didn’t set up this schedule to go undefeated. If our guys found a way to win all the games, I would have been really proud of them, but I am super proud of them. These guys did an incredible job and showed tremendous character today. We were down three different times, especially after being up big in the first half and they made some some runs. We weathered the storm a little bit and found a way to get back in the game and draw even both times. We had good shots down the end of each one of those regulation and overtime scenarios I feel good about it.”
On the final play call: “I figured they were going to come out and switch a bunch of things, so we kind of just wanted to kind of put the ball in Caleb or Kylan’s hands and I figured one of them was going to have to make a play off the dribble. Caleb is a big shot taker and he’s a big shot maker, so I feel good about the look. It was in and out. That thing holds in there and we all probably feel a little bit different.”
On Caleb Love: “He shot some big-time ones, but he also one that was like a layup on the left side that he shot and it came out of his hand and I thought it had no chance and somehow it hit below the rim and crawled over the rim. Caleb has a dunk and a layup. I am probably going to take a dunk and a layup over that shot, but that’s how the ball goes sometimes. He’s a really, really good player. He has a poise about him and he knows where he can pick and choose his spots and he has tremendous confidence. I was really impressed with him.”
On being prepared for Pac-12 play: “We didn’t win today, but we have winners. This team is built to have the type of conference season we all hope for and beyond. I’m not down. You can’t simulate those pressure scenarios. There’s going to be a lot we learn from. A lot of positives where we did go and make good plays and probably a few negatives we can learn from. Now that you’ve actually experienced beyond practice, it really helps.”
On Oumar Ballo: “Oumar really impacted the game and we want to continue to build with him. He’s obviously a force. I am sure his finishing will continue to pick up a bit, but for him to go and get 20 rebounds in a game like that was pretty impressive. We love Oumar, appreciate the value he brings to us. We were kind of mixing some lineups down the stretch in there and he handled it with a ton of maturity going in and out. To step up and make two big free-throws shows a lot of growth for him.”
On dealing with a loss: “I wish this was the NBA where we are off to the next one and where these losses didn’t hurt as much, but in college they hurt. The losses hurt in college, especially when you’re a program like Arizona and you’re not used to losing. We’re built for it and there’s no shame in losing to Purdue, there’s no shame in losing to Florida Atlantic. They are a very good team and extremely well coached. I was impressed watching them and we knew it was going to be tough. When we went up I thought the chances of us continuing was pretty slim and to their credit, they dug back in the game and made a good run at the start of the second half to take control of things. It tested our character and I thought our guys rose to the occasion.”
On the break before Pac-12 play: “It’s been a hard deal. We played Purdue, Alabama and FAU in seven or eight days. (FAU) played a game last Saturday and had a week to prepare, but that’s fine. It had no impact on the game. Break comes at a good time and I can’t wait to get together with my staff and kind of figure out the next uptick for this team. This team has a lot of growth in it and we’re going to try to tap into everything we can.”